Lunch and learn at the AAHomecare Conference

 - 
03/02/2010

Jonathan Blum appreciates your concerns. He really does.

But the competitive bidding program is moving forward.

A brave statement to make at a luncheon populated by about 300 HME providers with knives.

"We take PAOC very seriously and we've learned from the past," Blum, the director of Medicare Management Services told the crowd at AAHomecare's conference today. "The online bidding system is smoother, and we are not aware of any significant concerns."

That's all well and good, said providers, but you're missing the point, Mr. Blum. As PAMS' John Shirvinsky put it:  "No matter how hard you guys work, it's a fundamentally flawed program. This is going into the market, weaning the players and hoping that the chips fall where they may and everybody is served."

One thing that really seemed to irk the crowd. Blum attempted to describe a way in which the program is anti-fraud. Apparently, in CMS's mind, high prices attract interest of the not so-legal kind. So, if through competitive bidding, we "get prices right," the crooks will go find another market to swindle.

Thereby once again punishing HME providers who try to do the right thing.

But, as Walt Gorski suggested later in the day, there was some good that came out of Blum's lunchtime chat.

"That was a really motivational speech for us all (to get more sponsors to sign HR 3790)," he told attendees.

I think tomorrow, on Capitol Hill, providers plan to do just that.

Theresa Flaherty